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Self-Care or Self-Pity?

Self-Care (noun):

1. care for oneself.

2. specifically: healthcare provided by oneself often without the consultation of a medical professional.

Have I got your attention? Let's get going.

Rewind: Outgoing Call, 2:30 p.m.

"This is not normal. I cannot afford to feel like this one day longer. This medication is not sufficient anymore," my words came out in a desperately aggressive tone. If he was about to say what I thought he was about to say, I swore I'd hang up the phone.

"Your situation isn't normal, but that doesn't mean it isn't treatable. We can increase the dose," he said steadily. Warmth drizzled from the crown of my head to the tips of my toes. My lungs refused to exhale the air I had breathed in. I closed my eyes as tightly as I could, but it did no good. Three tears leaked onto my ruddy-pink, hive-infested cheeks. Adrenaline.

"The medication. Doesn't. Work." I choked.

My Story

For those of you who are new here, I live with an autoimmune sleep disorder.

It limits me in more ways than I'd like to admit. At first, it was refreshing to know what was making me feel the way that I did (and occasionally still do). But as with all diagnoses, what I was feeling was closure. Not comfort.

The first two years of treatment were great. I made life changes that filled in the holes my condition had dug so deep.

Fast-forward to a couple months ago. The meds weren't working their wonders. I was at college; I didn't have time to complain. Complaining meant changing, and I, academically and physically, could not afford to change medications mid-semester.

So I improvised. And- you guessed it! - everything got worse.

Caffeinated Self-Care

A big part of having Narcolepsy in college is maintaining self-care. Not even self-care. Self-control is probably the more accurate term here.

Going out on a weeknight? Not possible. "But the goal is to have fun!" Reader. If fun is the end justifying the means, that makes the means falling behind a week or two in classes.

Staying up to finish that project due in 2 days? Not possible. Less than 12 hours of sleep means missing class the next day to take a 3-hour nap.

I could go on, but I'm assuming you get the idea that self-control equals self-care for this equation.

Talk about isolating the variable.

Spotted: Self-Pity Hiding In the Rabbit Hole.

Back to the phone call. It made me feel sad. Hopeless. Lost. Confused. Annoyed. Grouchy. Afraid. Unsteady. Victim of my own body. Misunderstood. Isolated. So I turned to caffeine pills. I would take care of myself if no one else would.

Hopefully that's the most negativity you read today.

Which is the signal phrase leading to the point of this post: self-pity.

Self-Pity Consumes Self-Care

If a person is not vigilant and careful, self-care can quickly turn into self-pity. Especially when self-care is used to justify, amplify, and/or validate the pain.

In a way, the caffeine pills justified my pain. (Don't ask me how. I honestly don't know what my logic was when I look back on it).

But if self-control equals self-care, what does that make self-pity?

I'm no mathematician. I hated math growing up and still do. Some of the equations don't make sense to me. Especially y=mx+b. Isolate the variable. Which one? Self-pity? Self-care? Or self-control? Okay, self-control. Which letter is that? Y? M? X? B?

These are all questions I would ask my math tutor who told me exactly what you're telepathically telling me now: Don't overthink it.

When I think about it, I neglected self-control (patience) for self-care (caffeine pills) to fix (more like validate) my pain. And cancelling out self-control for self-care led to self-pity.

I hate math, but I do love a good juxtaposition! #englishmajor #getLit

Short-Term Gain

Reader. I know the outcome of this equation because I tried so desperately to solve it on my own. My self-control was failing and I convinced myself that there was nothing to lose. My body was already attacking me. Giving it more ammo (in the form of a caffeine high followed by a caffeine crash) wouldn't change my situation. (hey there, self-pity).

Spoiler: Giving my body more ammunition to use against me wouldn't change my situation. But it would worsen my condition. And it would feed the crave for (impossible) immediate relief. Thus the caffeine pills.

I can imagine an open-handed Morpheus asking me his Hollywood blockbuster question: Red pill, blue pill?

or, in other words,

Short-term gain, long-term pain?

What a question.

For the sake of your sanity and wellness, you cannot afford to allow the moments of despair to swallow you whole. Self-control is something you cannot neglect. I did- and it was a rabbit hole of self-pity camouflaging as self-care.

Red pill or blue pill. More like caffeine pill or patience pill.

Moral of story? Self-care is more destructive than self-control.

Your prescription by your unlicensed doctor/self-help blogger: self-control.

All the Peace,


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